Definitive Guide to British Regional Accent

There are as many as 43 accents in the United Kingdom however, there is one standard British accent and this is referred to as “Received Pronunciation” or “RP”. The English teachers use this accent as a model accent or a pronunciation guide. If you want to know about the different British accents, it would be better if you classify them per region. This helps you examine the different accents of the different countries of the UK and since England is the largest country, therefore it will be better to examine the accents from Southern and Northern England and London.

Types of British Accents

Given below is a list of some of the most popular British accents:

Received Pronunciation or RP

Geographically people who speak this accent stay in the South Eastern part of England. This is quite a posh area and therefore this accent is considered to be the accent of the middle-class and upper-middle-class people. In the past, only if you could speak in the RP accent, you could get a job in the UK, however, things have changed nowadays because, today, discriminating against someone by accent is not considered to be politically correct. In the RP accent, the letter “R” at the end of a particular word, is not pronounced. For example, the word, “water” is pronounced as “waw-tuh”. The RP accent is also called the “queen’s English” or the “BBC English”. This is because in the past BBC only hired news readers who could speak in an RP accent. As non-native English speakers, when we speak about the British accent we actually refer to the RP accent. The heightened version of the RP accent is spoken in movies or television shows.


·      If there is the letter “R” at the end of a particular word, it is not pronounced.

·      In words like “bath”, “path”, “father” etc. there is an extended “a” sound

·         In heightened RP, the word “mirror” is pronounced as “mere” and the word “man” is pronounced as “men”.


This is one of the most popular accents in the UK and London. This is the dialect of the London working class or the market stall owners that mainly includes the poorer section residing towards the end of the eastern part of the city. This dialect gave us rhyming slang. You’ll find a different kind of speech sound produced by closing the vocal cords and then opening them quickly so that the air from the lungs is released with force. The “th” sound often is replaced with an “f” sound in this regional accent. This is an iconic dialect and you will be able to recognize this quite easily.


·         Vowel sounds shift. For example, the word “day” sounds like “die” and the word “buy” is pronounced more like “boy”.

·         Glottal stop: The letter “T” is pronounced with the back of the throat and there is much lesser intensity. For example, the word, “better” sounds like “beuh”.

·         The “th” letter is pronounced as “f” and so the word “think” becomes “fink”.

Estuary English

This is also another London-based dialect and this is spoken by people who reside in the Thames Estuary. These days, this is considered to be the most popular accent that is spoken in the Southern part.


Yorkshire is referred to as “God’s own Country” and it has a wonderful dialect. Here the words that end with the “ee” sound are pronounced with an “eh” sound. For example, the word “nasty” is pronounced as “nasteh”. There is a lot of variation in the accent of Yorkshire and this is also one of the friendliest of accents in the UK. Another very interesting fact about this dialect is that it has its roots in the Old Norse and Old English which was the language of the Vikings.


·         Words that end with the “ee” sound are pronounced as “eh”. For example, the word “happy” sounds more like, “happeh”.

·         The word “the” is often omitted and the word, “to” is pronounced as “t” ( te)

·         The word “owt” means anything and the word “nowt” means “nothing.”

Northern Irish

This is also quite a beautiful dialect. The most noticeable thing in this dialect is that there are many letters in a word that are not pronounced. For example, “Northern Irish” will be pronounced as “Nor’n Ir’sh”. The accent in the Irish region is quite varied. Several definitive words and phrases make this dialect quite distinctive. For example, the word, “wee” means “small” and the word “craic” means, “news”.

What Does a Northern Irish Accent Sound Like?

The North Eastern part of Ireland is a part of the UK and it is referred to as Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish accent is quite a difficult accent and even the actors find it difficult to speak in this accent. Here the “ow” sound is pronounced as “ay”. For example, “now” is pronounced as “nigh”.


·         The letter “R” at the end of sentences is exaggerated and sounds like “arrr”.

·         During the pronunciation of the less rounded vowel sounds like “ow”, the mouth is kept tight and this results in producing very short “y” sounds instead of the “w” in the words like “how”, “cow” etc.

·         Even if there is no question, there is a rising intonation at the end of the sentences.


The Scottish dialect varies a lot from city to city and from town to town. It is similar to the Irish accent in the Western Isles. This is also similar to the Nordic languages in the islands that are situated in the far North. If you have seen the movie, “Braveheart” it might be a little confusing as you might start believing that everyone in Scotland speaks in the same way as Mil Gibson does in that movie. It is however not true as the Scottish accent is influenced by the Gaelic language and the dialect is quite diverse. For example, the Edinburgh accent is much softer whereas the Glasgow accent is much thicker and the speakers tend to cut their words more often.

What Does a Scottish Accent Sound Like?

The Scottish accent is influenced greatly by another language that is referred to as Gaelic. This is the main language that was spoken in Scotland till the year 1616 before it was made illegal. Even today, however, some Scots speak Gaelic. The rhythm of the Scottish language is different from Standard English. This gives you a distinct sound and most people find this sound quite nice. Moreover, you might also hear that the Scots pronounce “oo” in place of “ow”. For example, they will pronounce the word “about” as “aboot”.

It is said that the Scottish accent is the most difficult accent to understand. Just as the rest of the United Kingdom, there are also many Scottish accents. Most of these accents are quite easy to understand. The Glaswegian accent is however a difficult accent to understand.


·         The “r” is rolled.

·         The vowel sounds are elongated. For example the word “face” is pronounced as “fehce” and the word “goat” is pronounced as “goth”.

·         Glottal stop- The letter “t” is cut in between the vowels. For example, the sentence, “Pass the water bottle” sounds similar to “pass the wa’er bo’le.”


People from Birmingham speak the Brummie dialect. Even if someone has spent just a few years in Birmingham and many more years in a different city, he or she still tends not to lose this accent as this is quite strong. This dialect is soft and elastic and sounds a little lumpy. This is an accent that was at one point in time voted to be the worst accent in the UK. It has now however become a pride for the people speaking it as it gained popularity after the hit TV series, “Peaky Blinders”. Though this accent is spoken by the people residing in the city of Birmingham and the surrounding areas however it is quite different from the Coventry accent though it is situated just nineteen miles away from Birmingham.


·         There is a downward intonation at the end of each sentence.

·         The letter “I” is pronounced as “oy”. So the sentence, “I quite like it” is pronounced as “Oy Kwoyt loik it.”

·         The “H” sounds at the beginning of the sentences are dropped most of the time.


People belonging to Liverpool speak Scouse. This is one of the most famous British regional accents and is a nasal dialect. Trying to copy this dialect for the first time can be quite a difficult task.


People from Newcastle speak the Geordie dialect. Here the ‘r’s at the end of words are not pronounced. Instead, they are pronounced as ‘ah’. For example, the word ‘sugar’ becomes ‘sug-ah’. As many as 30% of the people residing in Wales can speak the Welsh language. It is for this reason that this dialect is greatly influenced by the Welsh language. This is all the more true in Northern Wales where English is the second language in the households. The accent is breathy and thick. The South Welsh accent however sounds much more clipped and musical.


·         There is a light “I” sound used on the words like “small”, “ girl”, “milk”, “ welcome” etc. and this is made by releasing the “I” sound rather than holding it using the tongue.

·         The accent sounds melodic as the syllables are more evenly stressed.

·         The “r” is rolled.

What Does Southern Accent Sound Like?

The Southern English accent is regarded as the standard British accent. In the Southern part of England, the people tend to have an accent that is quite different from RP. The other accents are the West Country accent and the Cornish accent.

What Does The Northern Accent Sound Like?

To a British person, the Northern accent sounds much less posh in comparison to the Southern accent. It is a little rough and is also quite friendly. The pronunciation of “uh” is “oo”. For example, the word “bus” is pronounced as “boose”.

What Does A Welsh Accent Sound Like?

Just like Scotland, Wales also has its language and this is a language that is spoken by several people even today. This accent has its flow and rhythm and this sounds quite sweet.


The guidelines mentioned above will help you improvise your British English accent. Once you are comfortable with these sounds, practise the British accent daily till the time, it sounds more natural. If you want to learn a British regional accent, join the best online spoken English course.

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